Tax appeal hearings now underway

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners heard the first tax appeals Thursday after convening as the Board of Equalization and Review.

State code requires county commissions convene as the board during February to allow taxpayers to challenge their property values. Failure to appeal forfeits the right of appeal.

Taxpayers who are not satisfied with the outcome of their case can appeal to circuit court. Any rulings made by the board are in effect for one year.

The commissioners set 10 a.m.-noon Thursday for walk-ins; no one appeared for hearings at that time. Only one hearing was scheduled in the afternoon.

The only scheduled hearing Thursday afternoon was for residential properties owned by Reeder Sams on Staunton Turnpike in Clay District and Sycamore Run Road in Tygart District.

According to county records, the 6965 Staunton Turnpike property consists of a vacant house and about 58 acres of land. The current appraised value on the property and house is $90,200. Last year’s value was $67,700.

Assessor’s office appraisers said the property is mostly woodland and that was the main reason for the increase.

“The rates for woodland properties have increased. Tracking the sales since 2003, we ended up with about 31 sales in 2008 of woodland properties. We determined it showed an increase in the value; it’s at about $972 an acre now as shown through the sales and we had 31 sales, and worked with median prices,” said Dean Cottrell, chief appraiser in the Wood County Assessor’s Office.

Taxes on Sams’ Staunton Turnpike property went from $447 last year to an estimated $596 this year.

Sams’ Sycamore Run Road property consists of about 71 acres, land primarily listed as used for hunting and there is a cabin on the property.

The appraised value last year was $55,900; the new value is $77,200. Taxes were $369 and are now $510. It is listed as woodland and was also subject to the rate increases, according to the assessor’s office.

“We have some scheduled for Feb. 3. We have gotten several calls. We also had some additional hearing requests for Thursday, but they met informally with the staff; we explained the changes; they were satisfied and canceled their hearings before the board,” said Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer.

The state conducts the industrial and oil and gas property appraisals. Commercial and residential appraisals are done by the local assessor’s office.

There were 4,500 valuation letters sent out to taxpayers in the fall. Assessors are required to send out the letters annually to property owners whose property values have increased by 10 percent or more.

Last year, the board handed down rulings on three residential property owners, one industrial and one commercial property following the board hearings.

Shaffer’s appraisal staff is available to meet informally on property appraisals by calling 304-424-1842.

The commissioners will convene from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Thursday, Feb. 10 and 13 for walk-ins, and, if needed, afternoon appointments can be scheduled from 1-3 p.m. on those dates. Appointments will be available from 5-7 p.m. Thursday by appointment only.

Appointments will be available if needed for residential property only beginning at 10 a.m. to noon and from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 18, except Saturdays and Sundays, and concluding at 3 p.m. on Feb. 21. The board will not be in session on Feb. 17 because that is a holiday.

Appointments for all hearings must be made through the county administrator’s office, 304-424-1976.

The board will discuss the hearings and do any on-site reviews Feb. 24 and make its decisions. Appellants will be notified in writing of the board’s rulings.

Legislation went into effect in 2012 that gives taxpayers the option of requesting a board of assessment appeal in October. Those requests need to be filed in February.

Changes made by the board of review are in effect for one year.